Watch: Martin McDonagh talks to Yahoo about The Banshees of Inisherin
Oscar-winning writer/director Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) has revealed a surprise link between his latest film The Banshees of Inisherin and iconic Irish comedy series Father Ted.
Already in the spotlight for re-uniting actors Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson 14 years after their darkly funny In Bruges double act, The Banshees Of Inisherin (in cinemas from Friday, 21 October) is set on a remote island off the coast of Ireland.
There’s an immediate echo of legendary comedy, Father Ted, but speaking to McDonagh admitted there was another, more literal connection.
A number of scenes in the film are set in the local pub and two of the regulars are familiar faces. “The guys who are in the pub — Pat Shortt and Jon Kenny — were both in the first season of Father Ted,” McDonagh tells us.
He added that he was a huge fan of the show, although he was never tempted to imitate its style of humour in the film, sticking to his own, darker style. He both wrote and directed the bleak tragi-comedy.
Shortt appeared in four episodes of the first series, while Kenny also appeared in season one, returning in the second for a role in one of the show’s most popular episodes, 'Song For Europe'.
From 1995 – 1998, Father Ted followed the surreal mis-adventures of three priests – Ted (Dermot Morgan), Dougal (Ardal O’Hanlon) and Jack (Frank Kelly) – and their put-upon housekeeper Mrs Doyle (Pauline McLynn), who all lived on Craggy Island.
At the heart of The Banshees Of Inisherin are lifelong friends and drinking buddies, Colm (Gleeson) and Padraic (Farrell). Out of the blue Colm, decides their friendship is over, something Padraic can neither understand or accept. But his persistent efforts to repair the damage drive his former friend to make a threat, one which nobody believes he’ll carry out.
Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon co-star alongside Farrell and Gleeson, together with a cast of animals, including a pony, dogs and goats. “You see the film through the animals’ innocent eyes,” explained McDonagh.
“They’re watching this war take place and having that innocence observe it is the reason that they’re there. It’s not just because they’re cute.”
But it was Jenny the donkey who achieved a certain notoriety after it was extensively reported that she had kicked Farrell during filming.
McDonagh explained exactly what happened. “It completely wasn’t Colin’s fault," the filmmaker says. "He literally just walked behind her at the wrong time and Jenny didn’t like it.”
The film won the Best Screenplay Award at this year’s Venice Film Festival, while the Best Actor trophy went to Farrell.
In 2018, McDonagh received both the Oscar and the BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. In addition, he won the BAFTA in 2009 for his In Bruges screenplay. He is also an established playwright, receiving three Olivier Awards.
The Banshees Of Inisherin is released in UK cinemas on Friday, 21 October. Watch a trailer below.